The Causes of Acute Catarrh Of The Stomach, or Bilious Attack

The principal exciting causes of the disease are the following:

1. Overeating. More food being taken than can be digested, it undergoes decomposition, and the irritating products of fermentation excite congestion, which finally produces catarrh. The catarrhal symptoms do not usually occur until some hours after the overloading of the stomach, usually not until next day, as some time is required for the diseased condition to become established. Children frequently suffer from this cause, being allowed to nurse too long or to take too large a quantity of milk at a time. Generally, the infantile stomach repels a portion of the food when a larger quantity is taken than can be digested, retaining only the proper quantity; but in some cases vomiting does not occur easily, and then an excessive quantity may be retained, which, undergoing decomposition, occasions gastric catarrh. It is this fact which has given rise to the popular notion that it is a good sign for children to vomit often and easily, it being observed that such children sicken less readily than others.

2. Another common cause of gastric catarrh is the use of indigestible articles of food in even moderate quantities. As articles of this class may be mentioned all kinds of fat foods, fried foods, pastry, sweet-meats, preserves, ices, hard-boiled eggs, hash, and many other articles well known to be difficult of digestion. Animal fats are especially productive of catarrh, not only on account of being difficult to digest, but owing to the fact that they are not affected by the gastric juice they interfere with the action of this digestive fluid UDon other portions of the food.

3. Another active cause of gastric catarrh is the use of foods which have begun to undergo decomposition. Game, meat that has been kept for some time until it has reached the condition technically known by epicures as "high," stale vegetables, rancid butter, and milk which has begun to sour, are all very likely to occasion acute gastric catarrh. Feeding infants with milk which has begun to sour, even in a very slight degree, is a great cause of infant mortality in the summer. Not infrequently, fermentation of milk is set up by contact with a nursing-bottle which has been imperfectly cleansed. The tubes commonly used in connection with nursing-bottles are absolutely dangerous, as it is almost impossible to cleanse them so thoroughly as to prevent possible injury in this way. Children also suffer from the neglect of nurses to cleanse the mouth after food is taken. This should invariably be done, as milk will decompose in the mouth, and the next time the child is fed, the germs of fermentation will be communicated to the fresh milk taken, and fermentation will occur in the stomach. Neglect to take the simple precautions necessary to prevent fermentation in the stomach is one of the most active causes of disease in children in the warm season of the year.

4. Still another cause of acute 'gastric catarrh is irritation of the stomach from the use of very hot or very cold foods or drinks. The use of tea, iced-water, and ices in general, is especially objectionable for this reason. Drugs of various sorts, alcoholic drinks, and spices are especially productive of this disease. Spices and other condiments, when used in small quantities, at first excite digestion, but by increasing the process beyond its natural activity a reaction follows, which leads to gastric catarrh.

5. Stimulants and narcotics are particularly productive of gastric catarrh, first, by direct irritation of the stomach; second, by diminishing the secretion of gastric juice. Opiate and narcotic drugs also lessen the activity of the stomach, by which means food is too long retained in it, and irritation is thereby produced. The use of tobacco in any of its forms, also of tea and coffee, are very common causes of gastric catarrh, or bilious attacks. We have seen people relieved of the disease entirely, after having suffered almost constantly for many years, by discontinuing these habits.

6. Still another cause of gastric catarrh is "taking cold," one of the most common causes of catarrh.

Gastric catarrh is frequently produced in weakly children and adults who are just convalescing from some exhausting disease by causes which would not affect a healthy person injuriously. It is also frequently excited in children by using cows milk without sufficient dilution, by the use of meat and vegetables for which the stomach is not prepared, especially by the use of confectionery and sweet-meats, with which they are often supplied as a means of keeping them quiet. Taking a hearty meal when the system is exhausted is a not infrequent cause of this disease. Sometimes the disease assumes an epidemic form, appearing in a large number of cases about the same time without any apparent cause. The exact causes in these cases are not yet well determined.